Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Getting an SSD for Your PPC? Here is Some Important Info That Might Help

(Ed. note: The following is by Adam Albrec, author of PPC Media Center, cross-posted here from various other places. It's about SSDs, and since there's virtually nothing on this blog about SSDs on PowerPC Macs, I thought I'd include it here with his permission.)

I just got an OWC 'TRIM-Free' ssd for my MDD DP 1.42. At first, this was easily the best performance I've EVER had on this machine - OS9 level peppiness even running Tiger with heavy apps like TenFourFox. Opened 2 9000x6000 pixel images in Photoshop and doubled them by 10% increments, then opened TenFourFox with 50+ tabs - could move between PS History-states and then back over to TenFourFox and cycle tabs with no-more than 1/10th second delay!!!! Was ROCKIN' 11GB of Virtual Memory!

BUT it all came crashing down in less than a day.

The drive became completely unresponsive and I could not get any further than boot. Thought: "Knew this was too-good to be true!" Well OWC tested the drive and reported back it was fine!?!?!? To be on safe-side they sent another knew one and adviced me to attach to newer machine (Linux in my case) and verify it had newest firmware before using. Well this meant having to partition to MBR so Linux could see it. Well, once it was verified, I repartitioned back to APT to put in the Mac, but suddenly it was unresponsive again like the 1st one! Well to use the parlance of our time - WTF?

So it was time to get me some edumacation into this stuff. The reason Sandforce controllers don't need TRIM is that they do it themselves when the drive is idle. On a modern system, with copious amounts of RAM, the only time the 'Garbage Collection' function is noticeable, is when large numbers of blocks are being reclaimed. In older OSX systems with 2GB RAM limits, this becomes much more likely than in newer systems.

So what to do? In this case, the drive was 120GB (for $64 = Good Deal), I had initially partitioned it into 2 sections (80GB for OSX and 40GB for OS9). On a light day, maybe this would be fine, but on those 'Heavy-Flow Days', I can easily push 20GB or so onto VM, so I either plan on allowing for periodic down-time or give the drive all the room it can support to enable maximum paging flexibility. The second idea has been great and no more problems. Also, some have said that with Sandforce's drives this also makes sense in wear-leveling, because the more of the drive is available, the more it can spread the data around, and the drives also auto-recopy data periodically to make sure it stays fresh.

Boot-times/program load times aside, one of these SSDs are the best investment you can put into your classic PowerMac. Like having virtually limitless RAM. But you need to allow it more openspace to auto-maintain (for G4/32-bit systems at least 40GB).

Also while they do still offer the 'Legacy' IDE/ATA versions, there is no reason to pay the extra $40 when an IDE/Sata adaptor (at least if you are on a desktop with the room inside) like this one is available for about $6 and works like a charm.

Happy PPC Computing Folks!!

•• Note on IDE/SATA adaptors: The smaller inline ones like mentioned above, generally have a 2TB limit. Larger drives often require a PCI card. Also, they sometimes add an additional 1-second delay to Access/Spin-Up times. Once data starts moving, there is no delay, but if your only drive is an SSD, it might make sense to experiment disabling 'disksleep' on pmset in Terminal. Even in this case, however, there will occasionally be a momentary searching during bootup for the system folder as the card comes to life. This is normal.


  1. SSD are great for performance, but not so great for reliability and longevity. Speed is truly the only real advantage that SSD has over magnetic drives at this stage.

    I am quite content with the performance of the magnetic WD Caviar Black I boot from. Not all WD Black are created equally though. All perform well, but the 640GB and 2TB have a 15-20MB/sec edge over the rest. I have the 2TB.

    My advice... if you have the money to spend, and want to have a bit of fun with an SSD, then by all means buy one. If it's in your main system though... be sure to back up. Otherwise, it's better and more practical to stick with magnetic.

  2. Amen to that Zen. This should ONLY be considered a 'Nicety'. BTW, the best and most reliable are the Intels that automatically switch to Read-Only when they begin to fail - so your existing data is protected, and they are also the only ones that consistently survive sudden power-loss without loosing data. They are even available based on Sandforce, so TRIM isn't required on systems unable to support it.

    All that having been said, this drive for a little over $60 has proved to be really useful. I constantly push Memory limits on my system and the Random-Access nature of SSDs do definitely take the edge off of that - a LOT.

    At first all I could find were videos showing how much faster they boot - and who gives a rip about that? But it is also how spry your system becomes that makes it nice. Am glad I made the switch - BUT ONLY because I have 3 Hitachi Spinning Drives in the background Covering My Butt!

    I have a few friends who have accomplished exactly the same level of performance in spinning drives by either going up to a Raptor, or by Raid-0-ing two or more 7,200rpm drives with say a Sonnet Tempo PCI card. But these are just as much in need of backups, and also are a bit of a pain if you plan to run another OS which can screw up the Raid (As far as I know, there is no PPC-bootable hardware Raid-Card available).

    So an SSD is sort of like having this zippy-Unicorn, that does all the tricky stuff for you.

    1. I have always heard that the Intel SSD are the best, and $60 is a great price.

      BTW... thanks so much for PPC MC. I love it. One thing I have noticed recently is that about 10% of the youtube downloads I do are now in the .webm video wrapper. Both SD and HD. Most are still mp4 of course, but these webm files started showing up about 2 weeks ago. They play great in VLC 1.1.12.

    2. I forgot to mention... if you don't have your own site/blog, or even if you do, you are more than welcome to an author account at PowerPC Liberation, where Dan, myself, and three others collaborate together.

    3. Zen: Thanks so much. I LOVE my machine and seriously will use it as long as I POSSIBLY can. Now it is FREAKIN' Young again! PPCMC has really helped with that. BTW, don't know if you are a fan of the show, but just used Photoshop and the last PPC version of Inkscape to complete a FanArt Wallpaper of one of my favorite TV Shows - got a lot of love on FB and Twitter (Even from a few of the cast members! :0)

      About the WebM thing, I'm working on what to do about that. TenFourFox is OK on fast machines, and SOME of them will play in QuickTime with Perian (about 1/2), but even those tend to 'Pop' and hiss in the audio. VLC for Tiger is no-go. The BEST option is Bigasoft Total Video Converter - I have version (say that 10x fast ;0). It says needs G5, but works FINE even on single processor G4 with Tiger. Can convert basically ANY format, including WebM, and is very quick (nearly as fast as FLV Crunch - and they added async to keep audio perfect). It can both convert and play them. But I'm not sure if they have a compatible version anymore for sale.

      One option is to detect WebM and override to Download instead of play and show a message - this isn't bad. I'm tempted to do this last one, OR do an installer choice. Version 6 (full Universal Install - coming soon) has a LOT of new refinements.

      • Now starts in Theatre Mode automatically if existing QT windows are detected, to avoid forcing them to close,

      • will offer advanced support for CHUD tools, so for people who disable processors to cope with Heat or Fan Noise, will auto-select SD if in SP mode, or if HD is selected while in SP, will switch to DP-mode automatically. Also, if in Theatre Mode, will switch back again when done with HD video!

      • Also, will offer automated List Play from Youtube,

      • Now supports DL and MP3 conversion of multi-segmented videos,

      • will accept multiple video URLS and batch DL them to the desktop in a titled/dated folder (as part of a shell-script so the main script isn't tied up, automatically ignores errors),

      AND I'm also working on a BackUp mode that activates a second instance incase one tries to call the script while in Theatre Mode & a Notifier to advice users to check in a day or so for updates and/or report to the youtube-dl project (link included) if a DL fails.

      Lastly, for the Intel Crowd, will see about including rtmpdump (if the dev says OK) to enable encrypted DL (no playback possible here).

      Your group is cool - I visit it every few weeks! Sadly, this is probably my last year as a PPC Luddite (though will continue with my machine as stated above). LINUX is CALLING and sadly it just works way better in x86/AMD64. Have been setting these things up for SOOOO long, and now I want one ;0) Here is a recent Tweet I did you might enjoy => on it.

      I do have a collection, however, of VERY hard to find PPC OSX apps - that would LOVE to send out to the world. They are what you call abandonwear now for sure, and just deserve to be used by people who need them. Will get as many as I can to you if you might want to put them out there (I also put a lot up on


    4. Thanks for all the info.

      As for .webm files, they do play fine for me in the Leopard version (1.1.12) of VLC, but I guess 0.9.10 was before that wrapper. I am fine with the way things are, but just wanted to note the different wrapper while I had your attention. I did some research on .webm files, and they are virtually the same as x264, but slightly more efficient. I have indeed seen lower resource use with webm. Only VLC 1.1.12 plays them out of the army of players I keep on my Leo boot drive.

      You could always play them on Linux with newer VLC if you really don't want to go down the Leopard path.

      My life is so filled with OpenBSD coding and scripts that I use the Mac apps I do as is. Other than visiting a few PowerPC blogs and using PPC MC, I don't do anything online with Mac OS PowerPC. Video playback and content creation are really my only use for Mac OS PowerPC now. For video playback... Leopard has a clear edge over Tiger.

    5. The only issue really happens during playback. DL is fine. Since both QuickTime and TenFourFox play WebM passably, I will have to do some testing. To avoid HD WebM because of most PPC limitations is silly, since any Android-device can now play them fine, but not all of them have this level of youtube-dl support. So I need to leverage that. Much like in the rtmpdump issue, this really only downloads those - they also have to be played in VLC. As nice as Linux is, youtube-dlg, has a long way to go to be as servicable as PPCMC, so should still have some life.

      P.S. in the case of Leopard, I realize it does have a few advantages over Tiger, but it also has a lot of flakiness I can do without personally, and I still feel unless you are on a late model G5 DP/QP, it is just too sluggish. When I compare that to Linux Mint x86/AMD64 on a crappy old Pentium D - which RUNS AMAZING under Mate, it just doesn't make sense to stay PPC accept where it is still fun - for me ;0) OS9 is my Fave, and Tiger is a close 2nd. After that to heck with Apple.

  3. PPC Media Center´s script is configured to make youtube-dl play or download the "best" format available in each youtube video. A week ago or so, this format became .webm for most youtube links. Of course the .mp4 still exists, but to stream it with Quicktime using PPCMC you must edit the script and change the term "best" for "18" which is the code for .mp4 in youtube-dl. I´ve made it myself and it works like a charm.

    1. YEY - people are editing!!!! I had so hoped for this and maybe getting some new blood in the project. The only downside of what you suggest is that most sites don't use youtube 'Number' codes (in fact more and more Youtube Vids don't have MP4 at all). I ran into this with youtube-dl on Linux a while back. Version 6 of the program will have a fallback, but hopefully to 3GP or another MP4/QuickTime format - am still research which one is most common. The only other problem is if you are converting say 1080 to something you can watch (as I do with the Bigasoft converter), you are telling the script that if it doesn't have the HD you want, you don't want HD - this could really suck for beefier PPCs like DP-G4s and G5s. But KEEP TINKERING!!!!!! One of you will surpass me and hopefully find out how to make the next big thing in Applescript!!